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Monday, April 12, 2021

Sustainable gifting: good for the planet

It was a sad day when we realised glitter wasn’t good for the planet and maybe we should let go of the traditional Christmas paper. But never fear, there is so much joy in giving upcycled, handmade, zero-waste presents and packages – plus sustainable gifting is good for the environment!

Let author Michelle MacIntosh guide you through some of the creative options available this Christmas with her book Sustainable Gifting.

Upcycled tomato tins

Tomato tins or any lovely tins you have in your house

Basil seedlings or other herbs or plants of your choice

Potting mix

Small pebbles

It’s no secret that I love collecting tins of any kind. A favourite thing I do in any overseas country is go to the supermarket and buy beautifully packaged utilitarian products. Tins are a great way to plant seedlings or any kind of small plant. I love to make a parcel of basil seedlings that I have popped into egg cartons, a tin of tomatoes, dried chickpeas or lentils, pasta or rice and a recipe to use them all in a one pot dinner, then add a note on how to use the tin to repot the seedlings. 

After using the contents of your tins, wash them out.

Put a small layer of pebbles at the bottom of each tin for drainage then add potting mix.

Add your seedling or plant and water in.

I sometimes like to add a layer of sphagnum moss to the top of each tin as it retains so much water. (If you make the kokedama on page 88, you’ll have plenty of sphagnum moss left over.)

Plant herbs you would use every week and arrange on a windowsill and water often.

If you would like to gift a dinner package, add the instructions on how to pot the seedlings and the recipe to the pack.

This is a vegan recipe but you can add parmesan (if you use pasta) or a scoop of greek yoghurt and/or grilled haloumi (if you use rice).

You’ll need a cute teatowel to furoshiki all the ingredients. I have also used a box and calico and natural bags. Pack dried chickpeas or lentils, wholemeal pasta or rice and a tin of tomatoes.

Gift the basil seedlings separately in an egg carton.


Soak dried chickpeas overnight, then boil in water for 40 minutes or until soft.

Take one cup of cooked chickpeas, one tin of tomatoes, one cup of rice or wholemeal pasta, ½ a stock cube and 2 cups of water and bring all to the boil. Boil for about 20 minutes, adding water if it is too dry. By this stage it should look like a risotto or a cooked pasta dish consistency.

When done, add basil, salt and pepper (and parmesan if you are not vegan).

This is an edited extract from Sustainable Gifting by Michelle Mackintosh published by Hardie Grant Books $24.99 and is available where all good books are sold.

Photographer: © Chris Middleton and Michelle Mackintosh, © Hiki Komura pg 9, © Hisashi Tokuyoshi 28, 31, 147, 158-59.

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